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and have its proper effect; that if the instructions from Virginia were to be revised, and their ultimatum reduced, it could not be concealed in so populous an Assembly, and that every thing which our minister should be authorized to yield, would be insisted on; that Mr. Jay's last despatches encouraged us to expect that Spain would not be inflexible if we were so, that we might every day expect to have more satisfactory information from him; that finally if it should be thought expedient to listen to the pretensions of Spain, it would be best, before we took any decisive step in the matter, to take the counsel of those who best know the interests, and have the greatest influence in the opinions, of our constituents; that as you were both a member of Congress and of the Legislature, and were now with the latter, you would be an unexceptionable medium for effecting this, and that I would write to you for the purpose by the first safe conveyance.
These objections had not the weight with my colleague which they had with me.
He adhered to his first determination, and has, I believe, sent the letter above-mentioned by Mr. Walker, who will, I suppose, soon forward it to the Governor. You will readily conceive the embarrassments this affair must have cost me. All that I have to ask of you is, that if my refusing to concur with my colleague in recommending to the Legislature a revision of their instructions should be misconstrued by any, you will be so good as to place it in its true light; and if
you agree with me as to the danger of giving express power to concede, or the inexpediency of conceding, that you will consult with gentlemen of the above description, and acquaint me with the result.
I need not observe to you that the alarms with respect to the inflexibility of Spain in her demands, the progress of British intrigues at Madrid, and the danger of the uti possidetis, may with no small probability be regarded as artifices for securing her objects on the Mississippi. Mr. Adams, in a late letter from Amsterdam, a copy of which has been enclosed to the Governor, supposes that the pretended success of the British emissaries at Madrid is nothing but a ministerial finesse to facilitate the loans and keep up the spirits of the people.
This will be conveyed by Col. Grayson, who has promised to deliver it himself; or, if any thing unforeseen should prevent his going to Richmond, to put it into such hands as will equally ensure its safe delivery.
TO JOSEPH JONES.
Philadelphia, November 28, 1780. Dear Sir,
Yours of the eighteenth came yesterday. I am glad to find the Legislature persist in their resolution to recruit their line of the army for the war; though without deciding on the expediency of the mode under their consideration, would it not be as well to liberate and make soldiers at once of the blacks themselves, as to make them instruments for enlisting white soldiers? It would certainly be more consonant to the principles of liberty, which ought never to be lost sight of in a contest for liberty; and with white officers and a majority of white soldiers, no imaginable danger could be feared from themselves, as there certainly could be none from the effect of the example on those who should remain in bondage; experience having shewn that a freedman immediately loses all attachment and sympathy with his former fellow-slaves.
We have enclosed to the Governor a copy of an act of the Legislature of Connecticut, ceding some of their territorial claims to the United States, which he will doubtless communicate to the Assembly. They reserve the jurisdiction to themselves, and clog the cession with some other conditions which greatly depreciate it, and are the more extraordinary as their title to the land is so controvertible a one.
The association of the merchants for fixing the depreciation seems likely to prove a salutary measure; it reduced it from 90 and 100 to 75 at once, which is its present current rate; although it is observed that many of the retailers elude the force of it by raising the price in hard money.
TO JOSEPH JONES.
Philadelphia, December 5, 1780. Dear SIR,
I had yours of the twenty-fifth ultimo, by yesterday's post. I congratulate you on the deliverance of our country from the distresses of actual invasion. If any unusual forbearance has been shown by the British commanders, it has proceeded rather I presume, from a possibility that they may some time or other in the course of the war repossess what they
have now abandoned, than from a real disposition to spare. The procedings of the enemy to the southward prove that no general change of system has taken place in their military policy.
We had letters yesterday from Mr. Jay and Mr. Carmichael as late as the fourth and ninth of September. Mr. Jay informs us that it is absolutely necessary to cease drawing bills on him; that 150,000 dollars, to be repaid in three years, with some aid in clothing, &c., is all that the Court will advance for us. The general tenor of the letters is, that our affairs there make little progress, that the court is rather backward, that the navigation of the Mississippi is likely to prove a very serious difficulty; that Spain has herself been endeavouring to borrow a large sum in France on which she meant to issue a paper currency, that the terms and means used by her displeased Mr. Neckar, who in consequence threw such discouragements on it, as in turn were not very pleasing to the Spanish Minister; that Mr. Cumberland is still at Madrid laboring in concert with other secret emissaries of Britain to give unfavorable impressions of our affairs, that he is permitted to keep up a correspondence by his couriers with London, that if negotiations for peace should be instituted this winter, as Spain has not yet taken a decided part with regard to America, England will probably choose to make Madrid rather than Versailles the seat of it. However unfavorable many of these particulars may appear, it is the concurrent representation of the above ministers that our disappointment of pecuniary succour at Madrid is to be imputed to the want of ability and not of inclination to supply us, that the steadiness of His Catholic Majesty is entirely confided in by the French Ambassador, and that the mysterious conduct of Mr. Cumberland and of the Court of Spain towards him, seems to excite no uneasiness in the Ambassador. The letters add, that, on the pressing remonstrances of France and Spain, Portugal had agreed to shut her ports against English prizes, but that she persisted in her refusal to accede to the armed neutrality.
The receipt of the foregoing intelligence has awakened the attention of the Georgia delegates to their motion, of which I informed you particularly by Col. Grayson. It has lain, ever since it was made, undisturbed on the table. This morning is assigned for the consideration of it, and I expect it will without fail be taken up. I do not believe Congress will adopt it without the express concurrence of all the States immediately interested. Both my principles and my instructions will determine me to 'oppose it. Virginia, and the United States in general, are too deeply interested in the subject of controversy to give it up, as long as there is a possibility of retaining it. And I have ever considered the mysterious and reserved behaviour of Spain, particularly her backwardness in the article of money, as intended to alarm us into concessions, rather than as the effect of a real indifference to our fate or to any alliance with us. I am very anxious, notwithstanding, to have an answer to my letter by Grayson.